MV Agusta Brutale 1090R vs. Triumph Speed Triple R | Jailbait

MC Comparison

By Ari Henning, Photography by Kevin Wing

The Speed Triple R’s front wheel hangs above the pavement as third gear becomes fourth, and the numbers on the speedometer flash upward. Next to the Triumph, the MV Agusta Brutale cruises along with both tires on the ground. A rise in the road provides the opportunity, and a slight tug on the bars brings the MV’s front wheel level with that of the Triumph’s. The riders glance at each other and shake their heads. You can’t see it through the dark visors, but they’re grinning like idiots. Again and again this happens, 1200 miles to and from Monterey, a good portion of them on the back wheel only.

Before stabbing out an inflammatory E-mail scolding us for antisocial behavior, take a moment to consider the bikes we were riding: the Triumph Speed Triple R practically begs to be wheelied, and keeping the Brutale 1090R’s front tire grounded is as difficult as getting a CBR250R’s afloat. Combine plenty of power with the high center of gravity brought by a naked bike’s tall handlebar and that’s what you get: Bikes so willing to loft the front that we’re almost powerless to resist. Scratch powerless; utterly unwilling to act like adults, is more like it. We’re not kidding.

There are more reasons to love these bikes than their ability to unlock your inner hooligan. Both are beautiful, with limited bodywork, comfortably upright ergonomics and enough style to make any Bike Nighter swoon. Most people notice the MV first. It appears more exotic, purposeful, and intense. The chiseled tank, single-sided swingarm and meticulously welded mufflers positioned impossibly close to the rear wheel speak to the MV’s handmade status. Those details are juxtaposed with sloppy wiring, an unsightly exhaust flapper, and a dated dash. It’s as though the Brutale’s main form came from a master’s hand, then a junior engineer was left with the task of making everything fit.

The Speed Triple R is no slouch in the looks department, and the more you inspect it, the better it looks. It’s been around for awhile, and the refinement shows. The wiring is carefully concealed and everything looks in its place. These details are important on a naked bike, as there’s no place to hide dirty design work. The forged aluminum wheels—made by PVM in Germany—are exquisite, with a glossy finish that puts the MV’s painted wheels to shame. Gold suspenders, red accents, and carbon fiber give the Triumph a truly custom look. Yet the MV received universal praise from casual observers, while the Triumph was occasionally shunned—always due to the my-fairing-was-crashed-off appearance of those funky headlights.

The Brutale isn’t just a naked version of MV Agusta’s F4 superbike. The Brutale is its own beast, purpose built to give performance addicts a power shot that’ll leave them reeling. The engine is a version of the F4RR 312 mill and shares the same 79.0mm by 55.0mm bore and stroke, but most everything else was reconfigured to suit the Brutale’s purpose. The bike’s most recent overhaul in 2010 saw major mechanical changes, and the first significant aesthetic update since its debut in 2001. The tank, tail, and radiator shrouds were reshaped with sharper lines, and a one-piece seat and more compact headlight were added. The bike received a new tubular-steel trellis frame and longer, lighter aluminum single-sided swingarm, as well as revised engine internals including a counter-balance shaft, new cylinder head, oil pump, engine cases, throttle bodies, and transmission parts.

On our SuperFlow dyno the Brutale turned out 128.0 horsepower at 10,100 rpm, with 75.0 lb.-ft. of torque at 7500 rpm. To help handle all that grunt, the Brutale is outfitted with an electronic rider-aid package that includes two power modes (Sport and Rain), eight-level traction control, and electronically controlled engine braking, just like on the current F4R and F4RR superbikes.

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